Give It Up for Kitiya, Owner of Healthy Nail Polish Line, Mischo Beauty

In 2011, while pregnant with her son, Kitiya Mischo King was determined to find a nail formula that was as chic as it was healthy. But six long months later, her search had left her less than impressed: bland colors that chipped and cracked, chunky lacquers that didn’t go on smoothly. So, she created Mischo Beauty. One of the best 8-free nail lacquers on the market. Oh, and it’s Black owned.

Did creating Mischo beauty kind of happen by accident?

You know this was years in the making. I went to Spelman and got a degree in chemistry and knew that one day I would want to combine beauty and science. I had no idea the first product would be nail polish. I really thought it would be hair care; I have always wanted a hair care line. But like I mentioned to you before, I was looking for a nail polish that wasn’t harsh while I was pregnant.

I didn’t polish my nails for 6 months after reading what was in the polishes I was using. Some of the chemicals were carcinogenic and could contribute to birth defects and other defects. When I launched Mischo, it was 5-free. Now we are 8-free!

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What was it like getting the formula correct?

It was actually a 9-month process of getting the formula right. I remember I launched two days before my son’s 2-year-old birthday.

You really worked hard to gain all of the knowledge you could about hair, nails and skin by going to cosmetology school.

I remember just saying you only live once before I enrolled in cosmetology school. I didn’t tell anyone that I was there until I was 6 months into the program. Mostly because people will always have their doubts and their opinions and sometimes you just have to do it. Not listen to anyone else.

While in cosmetology school, I started the Mischo beauty blog on Blogspot because I wanted to share all of the education I was getting at cosmetology school. For me, it’s all about education. I remember covering Miss Jessie’s while it was still a salon in Brooklyn. So I’ve been around! I remember my mother reading about Miss Jessies in Essence and she was telling me, you have to look at them. So yes, I really did the work to get the education in beauty.

How does a Black owned brand stay true to its audience, but not get pigeon held in the market?

I think that people know that they can still reach out to me. I’m still here. I am a one-woman show so, I think I’ve been able to stay true by growing with my audience and letting them know it’s still me. You know some brands, they’ll get a marketing person, and then a sales person and so on. And then they’ll hire teams. I haven’t gotten to that point yet. I’m still just a one-woman show.

Okay, we have to ask: what are the key things women should stop doing in regard to nail care?

First of all, when you walk into the salon, it shouldn’t smell like nail polish. There is no reason for people to have masks on. If I walk into a salon and the smell hits me, I’m leaving. I won’t stay there.

Look around at the nail polishes that they use. Do they offer 5-free or 8-free polishes? Take a mental note of that.

You know we’re going to ask about Gel nails!

I knew you’re going to ask about gel nails! I have a do you type of outlook. I say less is more. If you want to get gel nails because you’re going on vacation and you don’t want to have to worry about your nails, I completely get it. But it may be that you get the gel nails for that time and then you give your nails a break.

Would you be willing to expand Mischo Beauty to other cosmetic products?

I would love to expand that is my dream. My dream is to have a full hair care and skincare line.

How do you feel about the state of black beauty brands?

I’m very hopeful and very optimistic. There’s enough room for all of us. I see the larger brands starting to be more inclusive. But it’s also like; you have a lab and a full staff of chemists. You can create everything and anything. There’s no reason that a black woman should still go to a [makeup] counter and not find her shade. I do think that they’re trying and working but it will not happen overnight.

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